The bryophytes took this road long ago to flourish,
and die in the open; we invented coffins back then —
a saw, nails, wood and geometry,
to bury our last truth, one after another, for this or for that.
We also flourished and died.
Leaving nails near the poppy bush and line drawings
of rocks and God,
we drank forest fire mixed with honey and basil leaves,
to train our vocal cords and invent music
between the gaps in the grass and the hills.
Pianists, opera singers and flute players, barefoot, sat
on dead deodar trunks, and played and sang for the coffins
that we left on the hills.
We stood up and stood still,
we could not move because there was no joy in the glades;
we listened to music and read botanical books,
bound in bryophytes and rock skin,
we wore algae masks to hide from the Gods,
who would kill us with belladonna saps and yellow disease.
They were cheap.
We had to build cities and walls to prevent the Gods,
who worshipped perfection and ate horse meat,
with thyme and ripe strawberries.
We still go to forests to listen to music
but don’t sing.
We are imperfect since birth,
that’s the best thing about us.
Like the bryophytes, our distant cousins,
we visit forests to redecorate our past.
Sekhar Banerjee is a Pushcart Award nominated poet for 2021. The Fern-gatherers’ Association (Red River, 2021) is his latest collection of poems. He is a former Secretary of Paschimbanga Bangla Akademi under the Government of West Bengal. He hails from Jalpaiguri.